8 Breach Prevention Best Practices for Your Business

Table of Contents

The average global data breach cost increased from $3.86 million in 2020 to $4.45 million in 2023, a 15% increase. This amount of money crumbles most businesses, so you need to know how to avoid them.

The best way to avoid data breaches is to invest time and money into cybersecurity training, education, and software. More importantly, you must follow these 8 data breach prevention best practices:

Invest in cybersecurity tools and software.

Promote employee data privacy training, awareness, and culture

Comply with data privacy regulations

Develop a comprehensive data breach response plan

Conduct Regular Security Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing

Reinforce data access control measures

Conduct third-party vendor risk assessments

Enhance remote work security

Let’s dive into more details.

Understanding Data Breaches

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8 Best Practices for Data Breach Prevention.jpg

Every law defines data breaches a little differently (we do, too), but the gist is the same. A data breach is any accidental or intentional access, disclosure, compromise, or loss of control over data by an unauthorized individual or entity.

The most common types of data breaches include:

1. Unauthorized access:

Unauthorized access occurs when someone else authorized to handle data gains access to that data, network, or system without permission, usually via hacking, social engineering, or exploiting system vulnerabilities. For instance, here are the types of access you may provide to a third party in 2024.

2. Physical theft:

Physical theft happens when hardware such as laptops, hard drives, or USBs that contain sensitive information are stolen. This poses a particular risk for unencrypted devices.

3. Insider threat:

Insider threats come from employees, business partners, or third-party suppliers who compromise data out of negligence or malice.

4. Phishing attacks:

Phishing attacks are typically fraudulent emails that deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information and are commonly used in financial fraud and identity theft.

5. Malware:

Malicious software, or malware, including ransomware, is often employed by cyber attackers in data breaches to either steal data or to encrypt data and prevent an organization from accessing it before paying a ransom to the hackers.

6. DoS (Denial of Service) and DDoS) Distributed Denial of Service

DoS and DDoS can lead to a data breach by disrupting critical data and systems access and exposing system vulnerabilities.

7. SQL injections

SQL injections exploit the existing system weaknesses and expose the system to malicious SQL statements. Unauthorized individuals can then use these to view, modify, or delete sensitive data.

8. Zero-day vulnerabilities

Zero-day or 0-day vulnerabilities are exploits in hardware or software before releasing a patch or fix that hackers can use for their gain.

8 Best Practices for Data Breach Prevention

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8 Best Practices for Data Breach Prevention.png

Data breach prevention includes practices, technologies, and strategies an organization uses to protect sensitive data from intentional or accidental unauthorized access, disclosure, change, or destruction.

Each type of data breach requires a different approach from an organization or individual to deal with it. That’s why you can’t stop with only one or two methods to prevent data breaches.

You need all 8 of these data breaches best practices for data loss prevention:

Invest in Cybersecurity Tools and Software

Unsecured devices, systems, or networks are like open doors for cybercriminals, inviting them to steal your customer’s sensitive data.

Preventing data breaches is not guaranteed even with cybersecurity tools in place, but it will significantly decrease the chance of it even happening and its impact if it does happen.

To ensure your organization does not suffer a security breach, you need (at least) these four cybersecurity tools:

1. Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) and Endpoint Detection and response (EDR)

Systems are the most vulnerable to malware and other threats at their endpoints. For this reason, you need an endpoint protection platform (EPP) and endpoint detection and response tools (EDR) in your data breach prevention toolset.

EPPs integrate anti-malware, antivirus, and other security features to protect user devices (endpoints) connected to the organization’s network and detect, block, and prevent different types of threats.

EDRs are the next level in data protection from breaches, as they also continuously monitor and identify sophisticated threats, detect anomalies, provide detailed threat intelligence analysis, and provide quick responses to cybersecurity incidents, making them invaluable for mitigating breaches.

2. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Platform

Hopefully, your organization already has an antivirus and firewall in place (if not, good luck preventing data breaches). These are invaluable in detecting and avoiding malicious activities within your organization’s IT infrastructure.

One of the most common technologies used to detect data breaches is Security Information and Management (SIEM).

SIEMs are used less to prevent existing threats, but they can also do that. Their primary purpose is to collect data from different devices in your IT network and proactively identify security events that standard cybersecurity tools missed.

3. Encryption tools

If detection and prevention fail and the malicious attacker manages to steal or access the sensitive data, this is not necessarily the end. Whether the data is “at rest” (on servers) or “in transit” (traveling between endpoints), you can still secure it by using encryption technology.

Encryption enables you to encode sensitive data with a cryptographic public key, which allows only those with the same key (symmetric encryption) or a private key (asymmetric encryption) known only to them to decode the data. For anyone else, that data will be unreadable.

Here are the best practices for GDPR encryption to achieve compliance for your business.

Promote Employee Data Protection Training, Awareness and Culture

The most common cause of security breaches, according to most cybersecurity experts and reports, is human error. This can include using unsecured devices, misconfiguring databases, or improperly handling sensitive data.

This is where data privacy training for employees comes into place. This is to help everyone in your organization learn and understand the ins and outs of data protection and security and, more importantly, to create company-wide awareness and a culture of data protection.

Comply with Data Privacy Regulations

Data privacy regulations have emerged in the last few years as more countries worldwide have started to put more thought into protecting their citizens’ data.

You don’t need to know and comply with ALL data privacy laws, just those that apply to your country and customers.

For example, if you have headquarters in Canada, your customers are from the EU, and you outsource to third-party vendors in Singapore. You should know Canada’s PIPEDA, the EU’s GDPR, and Singapore’s PDPA.

Develop a Comprehensive Data Breach Response Plan

You need to be ready for the “what if” scenario. In other words, what would you do if a data breach did happen in your organization?

How would you determine the scope and impact (how many customers, what types of data, how much data, etc.) was affected?

Who would you notify your customers, law enforcement, and media? What would you use? Email, phone, or a website notification?

Who would be the person they could contact for more information? DPO or someone else?

What measures would you use to isolate the data breach and prevent it from spreading?

Most data privacy laws, like the GDPR, CPRA, and PIPEDA, require you to notify affected customers as soon as you discover them, although some rules are more transparent. For example, under the GDPR, notification of a personal data breach must be sent within 72 hours of detecting the breach.

The data breach notification should include the following:

Nature of a data breach

Possible effects

Measures to address the breach

Support and assistance offer

Conduct Regular Data Risk Assessments and Penetration Testing

Regular data risk assessment and penetration testing are crucial to any cybersecurity and prevention strategy.

Even if your current cybersecurity processes and solutions are working perfectly today, that doesn’t mean they’ll be as effective tomorrow against some new threat. Data breach prevention is a continuous effort.

You must proactively identify potential threats and weaknesses in your organization’s applications, system, and IT network before cyber attackers or malicious actors can exploit them.

Penetration testing, or ethical hacking, goes even a step further than this, as it allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your current cybersecurity measures by simulating a realistic attack scenario and identifying weak points.

Reinforce Your Data Control Access Measures

By introducing strict(er) data control measures and limiting the number of people accessing the data, you effectively reduce the chances of a data breach.

One of the fundamental principles of GDPR is the principle of integrity and confidentiality. It states that data must be:

“Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organizational measures.”

Implement the principle of least privilege. This principle says that users, programs, and systems should be given only the minimum level of access to the data necessary to perform their functions.

This involves:

Assigning minimal user rights,

Limiting access to data,

Restricting program permissions.

At the bare minimum, this means requiring a strong password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to access data.

Conduct Third-Party Vendor Risk Assessment

Even if your security measures against outside and inside threats are in excellent shape, cybercriminals can still exploit the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of your vendors and suppliers.

Assessing the security practices of third parties you are doing business with is vital. This includes:

Their data security history. For example, have they had security incidents before?

What data security protocols are they following? Are they adequate, and how well do they align with yours?

What is their cyber risk rating?

Do they comply with data privacy regulations?

Third-party data breaches are on the rise in recent years. 98% of companies worldwide are connected to at least one third-party vendor breached in the last three years. This emphasizes the need to conduct third-party risk assessments regularly.

Enhance Remote Work Security

The fact that more and more people are choosing to work remotely is no longer news. According to Gallup, 49% of US workers have telecommuted or worked from home in 2022.

Today, 16% of companies worldwide are fully remote. This improves the workers’ work-life balance and increases productivity, so it’s usually a win-win for both sides.

However, one of the most significant risks for the employer is exposing their organization’s network and system to potentially unsecured devices that remote workers use.

Most remote workers use their devices for work and personal use and often need more security. For example, suppose a remote worker has malware on their laptop that they are unaware of and connects it to the organization’s network. In that case, they will very likely infect the entire network.

As a CISO or someone responsible for cybersecurity, you shouldn’t rely on remote workers to use adequate security on their devices. Instead, you should bulletproof your system against any potential threats from the remote worker’s end.

This includes using appropriate tools such as:

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

Anti-virus, antimalware, and firewalls

In-transit encryption (SSL/TLS)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Email security solutions

Secure web gateways

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most common type of security breach prevention?

Firewalls are one of the most widely adopted and common types of security breach prevention. It serves as the first line of defense against external cybersecurity threats in companies of all sizes by monitoring the incoming and outgoing networks and preventing unauthorized network access.

What is the #1 cause of security breaches?

The most common cause of security breaches, according to most cybersecurity experts and reports, is human error. This can include using unsecured devices, misconfiguring databases, or improperly handling sensitive data.

What technique is used to detect a breach?

One of the most common technologies used to detect data breaches is Security Information and Management (SIEM).

SIEMs are used less to prevent existing threats, but they can also do that. The primary purpose of these tools is to collect data from different devices in your IT network and proactively identify security events that standard cybersecurity tools missed.

How Can Captain Compliance Help You?

Data breach prevention requires continuous effort and resources. Fortunately, however, you are not alone in it. Captain Compliance provides expert data privacy and compliance solutions that you can use in your breach prevention and cybersecurity strategy.

Get in touch today for a free consultation.

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